Saturday, 29 January 2011


kitchen inspection

At the moment, apart from my mornings filled with yoga and meditation, I am enjoying swathes of space to think, write and doodle. I'm going to be working full time when I get to Nepal so this is MY time! A creative bath. I soak in it for as long as I can. It's quite hot and sunny and going outside soon shows me who is boss (the sun of course) so afternoons are nice and cool in my little rooms. I don't even need the fan on much in there, not yet. So I stretch and lounge like a spoiled pet. 
I take my camera on a visit to the kitchen because something smells so good in there. I love Pushpa's kitchen. the reflections in the marble, the fresh vegetables and the soup bubbling away on the stove.

what's cooking?

The stove is a two burner calor gas affair on which Pushpa is able to produce vegetarian banquets unlimited and deluxe. The pans to cook with are like little vessels with no handles, there is a multi purpose gripping handle that works with every pot. Quite a neat system I think as it's less washing up and takes up less room. Also less places for grime to hide.

If I keep the bamboo blind up on my balcony the sun pours in and my ever vigilant Pushpa spies an opportunity to dry out her dahl which is easier to churn into powder for the magic that she does.
We take it in turns to follow the sun with the spread paper until it leaves the room.
This would make a great stop motion animation.
Here you can see the shadow of the rope that holds my blind up.
I like looking at it, it reminds me of sailing with my dad.

drying pulses

So these lazy loops are not just what my days are made of, the washing is a 'must do' job. A fragrant heap of yoga wear soon accumulates and a bucket is my washing machine. After navigating the pipe work map that lives in my bathroom I am able to drill into hot water after 11am as the solar panels have been doing their wonderful little job of providing us with free hot water.

my medley of pipes

And in I go with my Jasmine and Rose washing powder. I love doing my bucket wash, it's just fine. I'm doing stuff by hand and that counts for a lot. I love rinsing and rinsing and the thunderous rattle of water hitting an empty bucket is one of the Official Sounds Of India.

Tide's in

And the joy I know you will share of hanging washing out on a blow dry hot roof with coconut trees keeping my clothes company. As Chocolate Girl rather cleverly puts it 
"a lovely bit of billowage"
It dries in a couple of hours and smells quite a lot like sunshine.
This is of course easy for some of us to take for granted.
The UK is crippled with grey sky for ever at this time of year.
I say thank you thank you thank you. And then scoot back down to my rooms.

drying up among the coconut trees

And while I am roving this afternoon with my camera I thought I would give you a brief glimpse of my new year's resolution fruit which is to teach myself to embroider. Please don't laugh. I am enjoying it thoroughly. I don't have a manual, I had one from a charity shop at home but left it in a packing disaster zone. I bought one here
"Learn Yourself 121 stitches with Pictorial Guide" 
You couldn't make it up.
but I am having trouble putting faith in a book that calls a needle a neddle.
And I can't understand the diagrams!

So, here's me.
very roughly
stitching a story

stitching a story

and only slightly more successful are my crochet squares which are keeping time with me
and being rather meditative and good company in their own right.
I think I might need a yellow wool to sing out the sunshine song.
This is going to be a blanket made of very happy memories.

windows of wool

I'm not allowed to throw these cut ends away. Apparently they will be useful.
I can't imagine what for but then again, I'm always after a little thing to knot or tie.

wool ends

Love from me who appreciates all of you who drop by and share my blessed life.
I wish you could all pop round for chai and a spicy curried biscuit. 
Then you could hold my wool while I ball.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

ᙊ beware of the crocodiles ᙍ

coracle fishing
The lake is the closest this city gets to having lungs. Despite being close to the chaos and pollution, this area is literally a breath of fresh air here, especially at 6am. Clean and cool and quite perfect for a stroll. The mosquitos are nowhere to be seen and the birds and creatures seem completely unbothered by us.
Quite a lot of locals come here to trudge, walk or jog around the lake.
The lake is also home to fishermen who fish in coracle boats which are simple floating circular baskets. I have been in one before and they are surprisingly stable. Though when you look at them your mind fights this fact. Just beyond the fishing boats is a huge swathe of green that cuts across the lake and it is teeming with giant pelicans! Amazing! Next time I will get a picture but we glided past them when it was still dark. No way was I going to flash photograph them. Huge wings, huge beaks. I wonder if they ever get eaten by crocodiles? What do crocodiles eat anyway? Not chapatis & dahl.
croc alert
Crocodiles live in the centre of the lake so I was a bit nervous, I hadn't read up on Crocodile Attack Survival but having said that I would have liked a crocodile wrestling story for my after dinner speaking tour.
I didn't see one but I did see the warning sign. Apparently when the lake dried up a bit last year the crocs were found wandering in the road. I don't know how true that is but how weird that would have been to see a croc strolling into the city.  
exercise together
I hope these two don't mind that I snapped them, aren't they gorgeous in yellow? They were briskly walking and the sun was coming up. I felt a bit voyeuristic, I do usually ask people but this was a fleeting moment of action.
crumbling glamour
And this crumbly glamour? Reminds me of British Victorian seaside structures. Love those stripes... 

Sunday, 23 January 2011

४ Pure Gold ४


Every morning when I wake up, here in India, I see Ganesh. Remover of Obstacles and God of Beginnings, it is a good way to begin my day. If you've been with me a long time then you'll remember how I prayed to Ganesh for help in India and he sent me Pushpa. Read my early forays into Indian life here  
Me and Ganesh? We got a thing.

But what also was becoming obvious upon waking is how much my hips were aching and how hard my bed was becoming. So I decided to buy a new mattress. My bed is bigger than a single size but not as big as a double and I went to the mattress making shop and constructed a deal (lots of head wobbling, head shaking and hand shaking) and chose my fabric from this selection.

mattress fabrics

These are brocades and I really like them. Can you guess which one I chose??
The mattress (handmade to my spec) was going to be ready to collect the next day! 
Amazing. Customer is called Madam.
This is why I love India. Nothing takes forever and it's all done with a smile.
The mattresses are sewn outside in the street by a man with a very large needle. They are stuffed with pure cotton and pierced with the needle by hand. 
And I really like them and wish I could have some at home for garden lounging and guest beds. 
*phones export shipping company*

When I went back by rickshaw to collect my mattress I spotted it from the street.

golden slumber

golden bed


Now I have a lovely comfortable bed. 
And a growing penchant for orange.

orange theme

And as a finale...look at this gorgeous creature I spotted this morning.

gold horns

Sunday, 16 January 2011

⠸ Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya ⠸

tamaso ma jyotir gamaya

Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya

Lead me out of the darkness in to the light.

It's festival time, Shankranti or Pongal. A time of cleaning the house, doing thorough Puja, (more cleaning, prayers and offerings to Gods). It's a harvest festival, a new beginning, a time to thank the cows for everything they provide here. A fresh start, a family time. It's lovely to be here now. I feel it washing through me too. Fresh air, bright light, a new skin.

So many smiles, children handing out sweets and bananas, everyone wearing their best clothes, their finery, the fanciest rangolis get drawn and boys drink beer late into the night and set off firecrackers. 


This is the Puja corner in our house, some homes have whole rooms dedicated to the very serious business of prayer and giving thanks. This all gets cleared away and cleaned thoroughly every few days and fresh flowers and fruit offered to the Gods every day... Meditation is done here and chanting and burning of incense. I always creep into the house in the mornings after yoga as Puja is often being done. I learned my lesson after blowing through the house one morning like a demented sunshine girl high on yoga. Noone said a word, but I knew I had to be a bit more serene on entering the house in future. It's lovely and reassuring to creep into the house soaked with the smell of incense and flowers and breakfast is cooking and my dear Pushpa is sitting in prayer looking so tranquil.


Happy Shankranti means the livestock gets dyed, decorated and even more revered than usual.. yesterday I saw luminous dayglo pink cows in our road and didn't have my camera ready and charged...I managed to find this decorated cow later, with green horns and a crown of marigolds. You might know this already but Hindus believe that Krishna is going to be reincarnated as a cow so the cow gets the royal treatment here. Fed and patted and loved by Indian housewives everywhere. The cows just take it all in their stride. And then a day of make up and flower wearing and body paint. Lucky Cows! 

Happy Shankranti means that in the evenings the children all put on their best clothes and take a tray of bananas and a sweet mixture of dried coconut, nuts, lentils and jaggery around to all the neighbours houses.
See below my little pot of deliciousness~I love this stuff!

shankranti sweets

On my travels, I wish Happy Shankranti to people and they give me little bags of this mix which I must always accept gracefully and then when I go to another part of town and they wish me Happy Shankranti I give them the little bags of mix I've just been given and we just move bags of this stuff all round town! Last night the children came round with bananas and we give them bananas so the whole exercise becomes a banana swopping marathon. Hilarious. I said to Pushpa, make sure you pick the best ones and we'll have them for breakfast. Luckily I had a bag of packets of colouring pens I'd brought with me so I was giving them to the kids and became Queen Shankranti herself, which is as it should be.

I met this girl earlier, she was stunning. They are all knocking themselves out with the outfits this festival. I've been invited to a wedding next month, I am hugely honoured and very excited about all the colour and ritual. Perhaps by then I'll be immune to it. I don't see how though. I am as usual over stimulated.


And because of Shankranti the rangoli is even more elaborate than usual. My love of rangoli is never ceasing. It's still hard for me to get my head around the fact that these patterns are usually poured from a handful of flour. The flick of a wrist and this is what happens. True artists. I've watched them in action, I've tried it. I am never ever going to be able to do that so beautifully.


I just record it because it's gone by the next morning and a fresh one applied. Or the husband comes home from work and parks the auto rickshaw on your hard work.

rickshaw obscuring art

Grounds for divorce?

Lots more rangoli images on my flickr page. I love it. It just makes me happy to think of the first job of the day is to wash the step and draw a new rangoli. Art and design and creativity first thing! And because it is made from rice flour the ants eat it which keeps them out of the kitchen (ants are a problem here but they are tiny little things or big big shiny ones, 
not inbetweeners like the UK ones)

What a brilliant brilliant beautiful way to solve a problem and bless the house at the same time. 

As you can see I am in ❤❤❤ with India 


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

⟖ world service ⟗

I am feeling quite excited about being here now. It's taken me a while to adjust and disembark.
But, hey, I am in India and it is, as usual, madly exciting, exhilarating and calm, all in the same moment. I'm well rested, feeling inspired, enjoying my pigeon English conversations and sharing smiles with almost every person I meet. As usual, an overload of colour is causing malfunctions of over stimulation and I am going to share some of my images with you from the last couple of days.

I went to the haberdashery shop as I really want to make something when I am here and when you are in a hot country there is only one thing for it, a blanket...I didn't intend to but I saw the wool and was smitten. I can't even tell you how cheap it was, ridiculous. Pure wool, colourfast (so they say) skeins in the most eye aching colours. I bought a few for 126 rupees (£1.79) and had to wind the skeins into balls, all rather delightfully old fashioned.

skein & ball

Especially if one listens to BBC World service on a crackly radio whilst drinking Twinings Tea! 
(I'm not being paid to advertise on this blog, but get your people to talk to my people if there is a proposition in the pipeline)
Once I'd wound my balls, I had the sweetest afternoon on a sunny veranda listening and hooking and thinking about lucky I was to be able to be alive in that moment. 

afternoon hookery

But then on my evening walk, the moment just before dusk when it seems as though there is a magic ethereal quality to the sounds and colours of India, a moment when anything seems possible and hopeful and an air of expectancy hangs in the air .....I saw this! Which fired up my wanty engines very much. Crochet garlands anyone? Someone find me a pattern?

crochet garland

But then I bought some embroidery thread and now I've got too many projects in the bag already. I shall have to stay here for a long time using up all my haberdashery. Would you have been able to resist?


And what colour cloth shall I embroider my life story on? It's enough to make a girl lose her decision making capabilities.


It's just as well I've got the gift of yoga to keep me grounded and unimpulsive and focused.

ashtanga yoga primary series chart

And I am so thankful that I haven't had to handwash all of these clothes. 
Until next time, Namaste and Lots of Love...

all in a day's work

Saturday, 8 January 2011

ૐ journey to India ૐ


The relief of actually arriving in one piece and getting through passport control was so noticeable that  I realised that I was all screwed up & anxious without realising it. I'd had a few problems, obtaining my visa, the endless bank holidays, the mad rush of Christmas and the general unsettledness that sits next to the excitement of getting away. So when I woke in a taxi outside Pushpa's house, I could have cried with gratitude. 

from the front door

Since I have been here (only 2 days) I have been sleeping a lot and napping at weird times, jetlag really gets to me and makes me pay. I snooze and wake and wonder where I am...

I've started yoga, ouch. And it's a 7.30 am start which is an improvement on last year's 6 am. I wake at 6 and do my daily meditation (see my resolutions) and listen to the birds that live outside my window.

Visually I can't help but be drawn to shadows today. The lack of sunlight in the UK was becoming oppressive, all that cloud just sitting over our heads is NOT FAIR. But today the shadows are jumping out at me proving the sun is up there. 

I'm beginning to unfurl, to stretch and breathe. I didn't realise just how much I had been holding it all in.  I'm in the decompression chamber. I can see light.

how does your garden grow?

shelling beans